Feminism has gone through so many makeovers that it’s hard to pin down exactly what it means. Back in the good old days, feminism meant raising the social status of women to that of men in the workplace, home and public square. Since the sexual revolution, however, it has taken on an angry, Artemistic slant that demands uninhibited freedom for sexual expression. (For proof, see this: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/horror-mob-of-topless-pro-abort-feminists-attacks-rosary-praying-men-defend) In other words, they want to become exactly like the men that they are both rebelling against and seeking freedom from.
Liberty – the heartbeat of feminism – has likewise been contorted over the years, as each generation sought to knobble it into conformity with the zeitgeist. The oppressed seem to go through a vicious cycle: first suffering oppression, then to social liberation, to sexual liberation (in other words, freedom from others, then freedom from self). Too often, they often end up becoming oppressors themselves. So the oppressed, oppress. “Do unto others what they did to you” – is that what feminism has become?
It seems that with every revolution, someone new gets hurt. The white vs the black, the men vs the women, women vs children, able vs disabled, born vs unborn, the religious vs the non-religious. People shove pain and hurt off like hot potatoes onto the next more vulnerable victim. Few extinguish it with forgiveness. The hot potatoes of hatred and blame heap up over those with no means or those that refuse to pass it on – the voiceless, the forbearing and the guilty.
Seeking our personal freedoms come at the expense of something else (and at times, someone else). Pure exertion of rights over other people doesn’t make this world a better place – it gives you a better place over someone else. Thus when fighting for our rights, we must always know where the limits are.
A woman may have the right to work, but she does not have a right to trade illegally. She may have a right to speak, but not to insult. A woman can lead, and teach and accomplish things; but she should not manipulate and destroy. A woman may express her feminity, but she may not do so immodestly. She has a right to be treated with decency, but she has to earn her own respect. A woman may choose her husband and the consummation of her marriage for children, but she may not sleep around and kill the natural consequences of that at leisure.
But you say, why not? If women seek equality with men, why they should not be able to do everything that they do, vices and all?
Think about that, and think again. Women were oppressed because men had rights and powers, but they abused them. Men worked and earned money, but spent it in brothels while keeping their wives at home as child-bearing slaves. Men had all rights to speak, but they spoke derogatorily against women, manipulated their feelings and destroyed their lives. Men have need for sexual expression, but they desecrated women with their lust, despised their intrinsic beauty and worth and objectified them; impregnating them often without intention of taking responsibility for the consequences.
Are we going to fight against the effects of these vices, only to later commit them ourselves? Are we going to take part in this cycle of oppression? Or are we going to break out of it altogether?
In our post-modern and liberal society, holding on to such ideals is an archaic, prudish or even fundamentalist thing to do – something only the religious, simple-minded (often, the two are wrongfully conflated) and the unadventurous keep to. But in doing so, society has lost so much more than its ideals – it has lost its very soul. It has forgotten how to respect and honour. To treat others with dignity, love and kindness. And although that is what everybody really wants, all we do seems to further destroy our ability to respect ourselves, and to respect others. It is hard to respect others without respecting yourself, and it is hard to respect yourself without taking up responsibility for one’s actions and living consistently with one’s values.
So instead of trying to earn respect, we simply changed our ideals. We sought our empowerment no longer in strength of character, but in Fame. Riches. Power. Sympathy. Rights. Sexuality. Yet there are so many that have achieved all these, and still conclude that it does not satisfy. The human soul was not meant to live on a diet of substitutes. Sadly, so many die in the worthless fight of trying to defy nature. So many spend their lives seeking answers that only death will bring.
But women can rise above that. We can die to our desire to be wanted and known, especially when the attention we crave comes packaged with evil circumstances. We can achieve what the men failed to do – to fully realize our destinies as a dignified, respected sex. To respect ourselves by bringing our souls under control, and then teaching others how to. To respect others by hating evil but loving its vessel. To be gracious and merciful. To hold freedom and power with hands of justice, humility and restraint.
That, I think, is true feminism.